If there is one person who personifies selflessness, un-wavering love and caring the first to come to mind should be your mother. She cradled you for your fist nine months and held your hand though all the challenges life could throw at you. Like with all true heroes books are littered with examples of hundreds of miracle moms from the classic Hester Prynne in the Scarlet Letter, who taught her daughter it's not shameful to have pride in ones self, to the more contemporary Mrs. Weasley the super poor super mom who took in Harry Potter like he was her own son.
10. Jeanettes Mother from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
The main character is a young girl named Jeanette, who is adopted into a fundamentalist religious community. As Jeanette grows up she discovers that she is a lesbian and finds love and happiness with another local girl. When her psychotic mother finds out she publicly condemns the girl in front of their church/town and proceeds to tie the girl down and attempt two lengthy exorcisms, one via a 14 hour beating and another 36 hours locked in a parlor without food.
9. Sarah from Little Children by Tom Perrotta
Sarah joins the ranks of the litany of literary mothers who neglect their children to focus the self gratification of an affair. While defiantly not the only woman in literature to commit this motherly sin she is getting singled out, I can only have ten on the list.
8. Gertrude from Hamlet by Shakespeare
The fact that she marries her brother in law, who killed her husband, is proof that she's nuts but what really makes Gertrude a certifiable psycho is that despite all the adultery and killing she tries a little too hard to show compassion to Hamlet giving the kid a serious Oedipus complex.
7. Jocasta from Oedipus the King by Sophocles
Speaking of Oedipus... Everyone in this story is too stupid and selfish for words and Jocasta is no exception. Too proud to kill her child to protect her kingdom, too stupid to not sleep with someone who is half her age when the gods have proclaimed she will commit incest, and soulless enough not to track down who killed her husband; she and the rest of her family are the perfect pawns to entertain the Greek gods.
6. Sophie Portnoy from Portnoy`s Complaint by Philip Roth
Alexander Portnoy is a deranged neurotic mess who, unable to enjoy sex, continues to seek release with more bizarre and deviant acts. To Find the root of Alexander's issues one doesn’t have to look to far beyond his smothering, flirting, fussing mother who wouldn’t even let him use the bathroom without overseeing what he had accomplished.
5. The mother/stepmother in Hansel and Gretel by Brothers Grimm
She convinces her woodcutter husband to leave their kids out in the forest to die. The children display intelligence and cunning to make it back to the house when the woman gets her husband to trudge them off even deeper into the forest. Child labor would even have been a more motherly option, and it was practically fashionable in the 19th century. Abandonment = bad mothering, at least she snuffs it in the end.
4. Norma Bates from Psycho by Robert Bloch
While most of her emotional abuse and tirades about the evils of women and sex go on behind the scenes in this novel, the emotionally crippled murderous fruits of her labor take center stage. Norma Bates defines the role of the psychotic mother in fiction
3. Margaret White from Carrie by Stephen King
Mother of Carrie White, Margaret was religious fanatic who believed nearly everything was sin and became physically and emotionally abusive to her daughter in an effort to get her to conform to her devout lifestyle, usually by locking her in a closet until she prayed for forgiveness. That kind of mother would send anyone into a telekinetic fury.
2. Petal from The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
She leaves her husband shortly after his parents commit suicide and runs off with her lover, but not before selling her daughters to a black market adoption agency... her only redeeming quality is that she gets killed off in a car crash so early in the book.
1. Corinne Dollanganger from Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
After Marrying her father’s half-brother Corinne Dollanganger is widowed, and forced to return to her estranged family home with her four children. Her mother agrees to let her move back in on the condition that Corinne hides the (illegitimate) children from Malcolm, her husband and Corinne’s father, until he dies. Instead of working it out on her own she stuffs the children into an attic for years where they are generally ignored and become malnourished, delusional, incestuous and develop every social abnormality in the book. Oh yeah she also tries to kill them off.
Honourable mention goes to Viviane Joan from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Viviane (Vivi) really is a good mother but vanity gets the best of her when she sees an interview with her daughter (Siddalee) in Time magazine where Siddalee expresses her opinions of an unhappy childhood. Vivi proceeds to act like a four year old and goes berserk and launching a war against her daughter, refusing to talk to her and even taking down family photos.... way to suck it up and control the ol ego for the family Vivi. Vivi would make this list except that by the end of the story both her and her daughter once again see eye to eye and really Vivi is just guilty of caring too much.